On July 4th, per my family’s tradition, we piled into our boat to head to Huddle Bay on Lake George to see the Bolton Landing, NY fireworks. This year it was windy and threatening to rain but we were armed with blankets and cocktails…so ever onward we went. The stern light broke just before pushing off and delayed us 5 minutes as I crawled into the engine compartment with pliers. I could hear the fireworks booming over the tree line as I crimped the last clamp into place and the Gods of Fun said, “Let there be light!” The waves were high, the wind picked up, and just as we rounded the point and finally saw our first unobstructed view of the fireworks they were over. The rain was coming down, the waves were too high, the firework barge caught fire, and we somehow ended up with a dead fish in the bow. It was a bust…but a hilarious one that I’ll never forget…neither will my son Max who was 17 months at the time.
The morning of July 5th Max asked me, “Boat fireworks?” I told him, “Not today buddy, that was yesterday.” Every day since…and I mean EVERY DAY, Max has asked me at least once, “Boat fireworks?” “No buddy…not today.” Eventually he got smart and put together this little string of words, “Go Dada’s car a airport. Max go up in the sky a airplane. New York a boat fireworks?” Smart kid. You’d think he’d let it go after a while. Nope. Every day…for four months. FOUR MONTHS!
This year we brought back my childhood tradition and woke up early on Thanksgiving Day to drive to Kansas City. Once we got to the hotel the party started immediately with Max’s grandparents (Papa-Doo and G.G.), my sister (Aunt Lele), David, and Max’s favorite…his 7-year-old cousin Jake. “Jaaaaake!” Max was excited. We forced him to attempt a short nap and then it was off to dinner which was (don’t knock it) a buffet with more delicacies than you could imagine! G.G. gave everyone a book and Max was in good spirits…which is to say we chased him quite a bit. My wife Kate turned to me at one point and said, “I think parenthood is a nice word for managing chaos.”
After dinner we went up to our room, popped the champagne, and watched as the streets of the Plaza filled with crowds of people waiting to catch their first glimpse of Santa! They pick a child out of the thousands in the crowd, the entire town starts counting down from ten, and when the counting is done the kid flips a giant switch and BOOM! The entire Plaza lights up with hundreds of thousands of Christmas Lights! The crowd goes wild and then…after 4 months of asking…the fireworks began! They launch from the foot of the hotel and explode at the height of the balcony so it is an odd experience having fireworks be at eye level! Max thought it was awesome…then he thought it was loud…then he thought it was scary…then he went inside and huddled in Uncle Carl’s arms while Mommy and Daddy kissed like it was New Year. The fireworks ceased, the crowd roared one last time, and the streets filled with Christmas music. The holiday season has begun! Things quieted down and Max said “The fireworks are ALL done!” I got a good laugh and agreed. That was the end of the “Boat fireworks” request…for now.
The next day we visited Union Station where Max took a ride on a small train, saw the scale train exhibit, and I bought him a toy school bus (another favorite of his). Then we went to the aquarium to see the “Giant Fish!” Max touched starfish, saw stingrays, sharks, and thought it was the coolest thing he’d ever seen. That night we went to the Melting Pot for fondue which Max thought was amazing because he loves anything he can “Dip, dip, dip.” After that it was a quick ride on Dada’s shoulders to the horse and carriages where the whole family took a ride around the plaza and Max pointed out every color of light and every Christmas tree. He was in heaven.
The drive home was a breeze and we were back at our house by late afternoon on Saturday and decided we should keep the ultimate “Max Holiday Weekend” rolling, so on Sunday we piled into the car to go find “Max’s Christmas Tree.” We went to Prairie Pines (where I went with my family when I was little) and Max got to meet Santa who gave him a silver bell. Then we had hot cider and cookies before taking a ride on a tractor drawn sleigh to the fields to find “Max’s Christmas Tree.” Max liked the ones that were his height and didn’t understand we had to leave them to grow for next year and soon he saw that there were trees bigger than Dada. A little patience, a lot of looking, and plenty of tickles…and we found our tree. It is up in our family room now waiting to be decorated which will be a fun task for next week.
The question is…how am I ever going to top this next Thanksgiving? We have managed to amaze the Amazing Max!